Thursday, August 13, 2009

The World Has Lost a Remarkable Innovator and Musician: Les Paul Passes Away at 94

For Immediate Release:

The World Has Lost a Remarkable Innovator and Musician: Les Paul Passes Away at 94
1915-2009


New York, NY
…August 13, 2009…Les Paul, acclaimed guitar player, entertainer and inventor, passed away today from complications of severe pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plain, New York, surrounded by family and loved ones. He had been receiving the best available treatment through this final battle and in keeping with his persona, he showed incredible strength, tenacity and courage. The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks for the thoughts and prayers from his dear friends and fans. Les Paul was 94.

One of the foremost influences on 20th century sound and responsible for the world’s most famous guitar, the Les Paul model, Les Paul’s prestigious career in music and invention spans from the 1930s to the present. Though he’s indisputably one of America’s most popular, influential, and accomplished electric guitarists, Les Paul is best known as an early innovator in the development of the solid body guitar. His groundbreaking design would become the template for Gibson’s best-selling electric, the Les Paul model, introduced in 1952. Today, countless musical legends still consider Paul’s iconic guitar unmatched in sound and prowess. Among Paul’s most enduring contributions are those in the technological realm, including ingenious developments in multi-track recording, guitar effects, and the mechanics of sound in general.

Born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 9, 1915, Les Paul was already performing publicly as a honky-tonk guitarist by the age of 13. So clear was his calling that Paul dropped out of high school at 17 to play in Sunny Joe Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis. As Paul’s mentor, Wolverton was the one to christen him with the stage name “Rhubarb Red,” a moniker that would follow him to Chicago in 1934. There, Paul became a bonafide radio star, known as both hillbilly picker Rhubarb Red and Django Reinhardt-informed jazz guitarist Les Paul. His first recordings were done in 1936 on an acoustic—alone as Rhubarb Red, as well as backing blues singer Georgia White. The next year he formed his first trio, but by 1938 he’d moved to New York to begin his tenure on national radio with one of the more popular dance orchestras in the country, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians.

Tinkering with electronics and guitar amplification since his youth, Les Paul began constructing his own electric guitar in the late ’30s. Unhappy with the first generation of commercially available hollowbodies because of their thin tone, lack of sustain, and feedback problems, Paul opted to build an entirely new structure. “I was interested in proving that a vibration-free top was the way to go,” he has said. “I even built a guitar out of a railroad rail to prove it. What I wanted was to amplify pure string vibration, without the resonance of the wood getting involved in the sound.” With the good graces of Epiphone president Epi Stathopoulo, Paul used the Epiphone plant and machinery in 1941 to bring his vision to fruition. He affectionately dubbed the guitar “The Log.”
Les Paul’s tireless experiments sometimes proved to be dangerous, and he nearly electrocuted himself in 1940 during a session in the cellar of his Queens apartment. During the next two years of rehabilitation, Les earned his living producing radio music. Forced to put the Pennsylvanians and the rest of his career on hold, Les Paul moved to Hollywood. During World War II, he was drafted into the Army but permitted to stay in California, where he became a regular player for Armed Forces Radio Service. By 1943 he had assembled a trio that regularly performed live, on the radio, and on V-Discs. In 1944 he entered the jazz spotlight—thanks to his dazzling work filling in for Oscar Moore alongside Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, and other superstars —at the first of the prestigious Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.

By his mid-thirties, Paul had successfully combined Reinhardt-inspired jazz playing and the western swing and twang of his Rhubarb Red persona into one distinctive, electrifying style. In the Les Paul Trio he translated the dizzying runs and unusual harmonies found on Jazz at the Philharmonic into a slower, subtler, more commercial approach. His novelty instrumentals were tighter, brasher, and punctuated with effects. Overall, the trademark Les Paul sound was razor-sharp, clean-shaven, and divinely smooth.

As small combos eclipsed big bands toward the end of World War II, Les Paul Trio’s popularity grew. They cut records for Decca both alone and behind the likes of Helen Forrest, the Andrews Sisters, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Dick Hayes, and, most notably, Bing Crosby. Since 1945, when the crooner brought them into the studio to back him on a few numbers, the Trio had become regular guests on Crosby’s hit radio show. The highlight of the session was Paul’s first No. 1 hit and million-seller, the gorgeous “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.”

Meanwhile, Paul began to experiment with dubbing live tracks over recorded tracks, also altering the playback speed. This resulted in “Lover (When You’re Near Me),” his revolutionary 1947 predecessor to multi-track recording. The hit instrumental featured Les Paul on eight different electric guitar parts, all playing together. In 1948, Paul nearly lost his life to a devastating car crash that shattered his right arm and elbow. Still, he convinced doctors to set his broken arm in the guitar-picking and cradling position. Laid up but undaunted, Paul acquired a first generation Ampex tape recorder from Crosby in 1949, and began his most important multi-tracking adventure, adding a fourth head to the recorder to create sound-on-sound recordings. While tinkering with the machine and its many possibilities, he also came up with tape delay. These tricks, along with another recent Les Paul innovation—close mic-ing vocals—were integrated for the first time on a single recording: the 1950 No. 1 tour de force “How High the Moon.” This historic track was performed during a duo with future wife Mary Ford. The couple’s prolific string of hits for Capitol Records not only included some of the most popular recordings of the early 1950s, but also wrote the book on contemporary studio production. The dense but crystal clear harmonic layering of guitars and vocals, along with Ford’s close mic-ed voice and Paul’s guitar effects, produced distinctively contemporary recordings with unprecedented sonic qualities. Through hits, tours, and popular radio shows, Paul and Ford kept one foot in the technological vanguard and the other in the cultural mainstream.

All the while, Les Paul continued to pine for the perfect guitar. Though The Log came close, it wasn’t quite what he was after. In the early 1950s, Gibson Guitar would cultivate a partnership with Paul that would lead to the creation of the guitar he’d seen only in his dreams. In 1948, Gibson elected to design its first solidbody, and Paul, a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool Gibson man,” seemed the right man for the job. Gibson avidly courted the guitar legend, even driving deep into the Pennsylvania mountains to deliver the first model to newlyweds Les Paul and Mary Ford.
“Les played it, and his eyes lighted up,” then-Gibson President Ted McCarty has recalled. The year was 1950, and Paul had just signed on as the namesake of Gibson’s first electric solidbody, with exclusive design privileges. Working closely with Paul, Gibson forged a relationship that would change popular culture forever. The Gibson Les Paul model—the most powerful and respected electric guitar in history—began with the 1952 release of the Les Paul Goldtop. After introducing the original Les Paul Goldtop in 1952, Gibson issued the Black Beauty, the mahogany-topped Les Paul Custom, in 1954. The Les Paul Junior (1954) and Special (1955) were also introduced before the canonical Les Paul Standard hit the market in 1958. With revolutionary humbucker pickups, this sunburst classic has remained unchanged for the half-century since it hit the market.

“The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being today. I cannot imagine life without Les Paul. He would walk into a room and put a smile on anyone’s face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his techniques unmatched anywhere in the world,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “We will dedicate ourselves to preserving Les’ legacy to insure that it lives on forever. He touched so many lives throughout his remarkable life and his influence extends around the globe and across every boundary. I have lost a dear, personal friend and mentor, a man who has changed so many of our lives for the better.”

“I don’t think any words can describe the man we know as Les Paul adequately. The English language does not contain words that can pay enough homage to someone like Les. As the “Father of the Electric Guitar”, he was not only one of the world’s greatest innovators but a legend who created, inspired and contributed to the success of musicians around the world,” said Dave Berryman, President of Gibson Guitar. “I have had the privilege to know and work with Les for many, many years and his passing has left a deep personal void. He was simply put – remarkable in every way. As a person, a musician, a friend, an inventor. He will be sorely missed by us all,”

With the rise of the rock ’n’ roll revolution of 1955, Les Paul and Mary Ford’s popularity began to wane with younger listeners, though Paul would prove to be a massive influence on younger generation of guitarists. Still, Paul and Ford maintained their iconic presence with their wildly popular television show, which ran from 1953-1960. In 1964, the couple, parents to a son and daughter, divorced. Paul began playing in Japan, and recorded an LP for London Records before poor health forced him to take time off—as much as someone so inspired can take time off.
In the 1977, Paul resurfaced with a Grammy-winning Chet Atkins collaboration, Chester and Lester. Then the ailing guitarist, who’d already suffered arthritis and permanent hearing loss, had a heart attack, followed by bypass surgery.

Ever stubborn, Les recovered, and returned to live performance in the late 1980s. Even releasing the 2005 double-Grammy winner Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played, featuring collaborations with a veritable who’s who of the electric guitar, including dozens of illustrious fans like Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Joe Perry. In 2008, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute to Les Paul in a week-long celebration of his life which culminated with a live performance by Les himself. Until recently Les continued to perform two weekly New York shows with the Les Paul Trio, at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, for over twelve years where a literal who’s who of the entertainment world has paid homage. It has been an honor to have Les Paul perform at The Iridium Jazz Club for the past twelve years hosting such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and others and is a tragic loss to owner Ron Sturm both personally and professionally. Iridium intends to celebrate Les Paul's music and legacy every Monday night.

Les Paul has since become the only individual to share membership into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Les is survived by his three sons Lester (Rus) G. Paul, Gene W. Paul and Robert (Bobby) R. Paul, his daughter Colleen Wess, son-in-law Gary Wess, long time friend Arlene Palmer, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A private Funeral service will be held in New York. A service in Waukesha, WI will be announced at a later date. Details will follow and will be announced for all services. Memorial tributes for the public will be announced at a future date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Les Paul Foundation, 236 West 30th Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10001.

CONTACTS:
Caroline Galloway GIBSON GUITAR 615-423-4904 o 440-318-1202 caroline.galloway@gibson.com

Jim Eigo IRIDIUM 845-986-1677 jazzpromo@earthlink.net

Michael K. Braunstein Braunstein & Co. 212-687-3939 mkb@braunsteinandco.com

Interscope Wants Better Sound Quality!

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10307894-93.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=News-DigitalMedia

about time!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lydia Hutchinson and Performing Songwriter Bid us Farewell

Dear Friends, June2009 marked the final issue of Performing Songwriter. In a heartfelt editor's note, Lydia Hutchinson bids a gracious thanks and farewell after 16 years of publishing one of the top music magazines. I am sad to hear it is closing, but happy to hear that Lydia made the decision on her own terms. Just as she started the magazine as and independent, she closed it as an independent. Truly the end of an era.

This is Lydia's goodbye note to all of us.


I remember meeting Lydia at the Planet Bluegrass Folks Fest, Lyons, CO.... I don't even remember the date, except that she was on the 3rd issue of the magazine. We met through a mutual friend and I helped her 'flog' a few subscriptions. We had a great time on that day and though we don't see each other nearly enough, I consider her a friend. We practically grew up in our careers together in music.. a sister entrepreneur.

Last summer, during a stay in Nashville, was the last time I saw her. We chatted briefly at her offices about the 15 years that had passed. She told tales of keeping the magazine away from the corporate buyout. The magazine was her art, her baby, her own. She kept it independent, she kept the quality. Lydia made it happen on her terms. I'm so damn proud of her.

This upside down economy has taken a hard toll on all of us... music industry and print publishing are just a few industries affected. It's the end of an era for sure, but not the end for Lydia.

Lydia, my friend, here's to you, your future and all the people who's lives you touched.
Cookie

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Sixty One music site

http://www.thesixtyone.com

well regarded music site. Let us know what you think of this one!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Easy to Find Music Licensing forms at Songfile

Harry Fox Agency-- songfile
for those of you needing to get licensing for cover material... here's a place for 25-2500 songs...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How the Mighty Fall, new book by Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great"

How the Mighty Fall, article in Businessweek. Written by Jim Collins.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of Interest to Artists.. Sales figures of discs this week

From Bob Lefsetz email news.. 5/14/09
Thanks, Bob, fascinating read.. opinions and all

1. Chrisette Michelle (Or is it Michelle Chrisette? What kind of world do we live in where almost no one in America knows the name of the holder of the number one album?) "Epiphany"

Sales this week: 83,468
Debut

So what are her Pollstar numbers?

So she grossed $800,000. Sounds like less than one Eagles private. And believe me, thirty years on (never mind the sixty of Elton!), no one in the Fortune 500 will be paying her to sing.

My "Epiphany" is sales numbers are no longer the number one barometer.


2. Hannah Montana "Soundtrack"

Sales this week: 81,533
Percentage change: -5
Weeks on: 7
Cume: 826,012

Weird when an album that loses five percent of its previous week's sales ends up at number two, but I must say, I'm surprised by the resilience of this collection. Then again, I was reading Dolly Parton hype (skimming, to be honest), and she said she only appeared on "Hannah Montana" twice, but since they rerun the show ad infinitum, everywhere she goes kids call out AUNT DOLLY!

This is not about music, this is about money. No different from selling Snuggies. With a shelf life barely longer.


3. Ciara "Fantasy Ride"

Sales this week: 80,890
Debut

Don't you love the modern era? Where there are enough diversions that you can completely avoid what's being hyped in the mainstream and not give a shit? (Then again, I am fascinated by the "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" marriage... You go on TV and you expect not to be picked apart? Or are they having the last laugh, was the marriage already kaput and they just wanted some of that TLC money. Didn't TLC once upon a time stand for "The Learning Channel"? What exactly are we learning here, that education is irrelevant, that rather than trying to play sports or be a rapper you should just get on a reality television show?)


4. Rascal Flatts "Unstoppable"

Sales this week: 57,987
Percentage change: +10
Weeks on: 5
Cume: 636,887

Loved the title track to their last album, "Still Feels Good". It's got that hair blowing in the wind with the top down feel that goes all the way back to the Beach Boys. The playing and singing on this new album is just as good, it's just that the material is substandard, almost completely unmemorable. And I tried. Played the album more than once, all the way through, looking to be hooked. I was not.


5. Bob Dylan "Together Through Life"

Sales this week: 50,734
Percentage change: -59
Weeks on: 2
Cume: 176,613

If this record was released by Joe Schmo, it never would have made the chart. This album is selling based on the brand name, and that's it.


7. Taylor Swift "Fearless"

Sales this week: 40,534
Percentage change: +42
Weeks on: 26
Cume: 3,189,543

Songs. That's what's selling this record.

Whether you adore that she's so young and innocent, or hate it, bottom line, you listen to the album and it makes sense. You don't need a decoder ring, there are melodies, changes, hooks, YOU CAN SING ALONG! And there's an honesty absent in so much of not only the mainstream crap, but the country crap.


9. Ben Harper & Relentless 7 "White Lies For Dark Times"

Sales this week: 34,363
Debut

The white lie is the manager telling Ben that anybody still cares.

Mr. Harper built up momentum, and then when it was time to deliver the killer track, that cemented his viability, he didn't. It was all anticipation and no release. His career has been floundering for years. I like him, I like his music, but I've stopped telling people he's a cult item who is about to break.


13. Nickelback "Dark Horse"

Sales this week: 28,164
Percentage change: +12
Weeks on: 25
Cume: 1,910,309

They're not good-looking, they don't work with Timbaland or Dre, they're not on TMZ or PerezHilton, they've got no buzz. But it turns out selling albums and tickets for a long time is not about buzz. Buzz is the start. Nickelback broke with a couple of hit singles. Now the public feels they'll get pure rock and roll. And that seems to be what they want. You can pooh-pooh, but you only WISH you were part of the cash juggernaut.


16. Kings Of Leon "Only By The Night"

Sales this week: 23,919
Percentage change: +4
Weeks on: 33
Cume: 672,889

I just wish I liked them more. Wouldn't it be great if the new white hope were truly transcendent as opposed to being a couple of steps beyond serviceable?


17. Kelly Clarkson "All I Ever Wanted"

Sales this week: 23,290
Percentage change: +27
Weeks on: 9
Cume: 550,236

Turn her into a rocker.

Instead of being debated for being overweight at Wango Tango, she'd be seen as a blues mama. She shouldn't be doing radio shows, but BONNAROO!

She's got the wrong manager. Those single tracks aren't what they used to be. And she can truly sing. She should have guested with the Allmans at the Beacon. She should trade licks with Sammy Hagar at the Chickenfoot show at the Roxy next week. She needs an exit strategy, this pop world is shrinking and she's dependent on the next hit, when she should be riding her voice into Janis Joplin territory.


19. Keith Urban "Defying Gravity"

Sales this week: 22,348
Percentage change: +21
Weeks on: 6
Cume: 334,653

I heard "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me" last night and I about creamed in my jeans. He can play the guitar, he can sing, but he's decided to play by the rules and put out an album that might work on country radio but slides right off of fans.

This guy is SO good. Every rock fan of yore, who's going to the nostalgia shows of the has-beens, they should go to a Keith Urban gig. He's alive and kicking, with four axemen on the front line.

I am SO disappointed with this album. I played it again and again and again trying to convince myself that I was wrong, that it had redeeming elements, that it contained greatness. Alas, it does not.

A misfire.


21. Zac Brown Band "Foundation"

Sales this week: 21,995
Percentage change: +14
Weeks on: 25
Cume: 490,353

"Chicken Fried" is a very good cut. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is not better than this almost novelty song.

Jimmy Buffett was seen as second-tier in the seventies, at least prior to "Margaritaville". But his early albums contained gem after gem. There was artistry. But this overhyped Zac Brown album is made for the radio, not the museum. These country acts put commercialism number one, they don't reach for the artistic brass ring, or don't have the chops. It's a sorry situation.

We recognize greatness. Zac Brown is good, not great, unfortunately.


38. Depeche Mode "Sounds Of The Universe"

Sales this week: 14,191
Percentage change: -35
Weeks on: 3
Cume: 116,496

The core needs no new music. And the hype seems to indicate that the mainstream cares. But this is untrue. Old goths will go to the show, but no one needs new Depeche Mode music.

They should have put out ONE cover and then gone on the road. Convinced us, with a great remake, like the one they did of "Route 66".


40. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band "Outer South"

Sales this week: 13,913
Debut

Can we all finally agree, that Mr. Oberst did not live up to his potential? Maybe that he wasn't that good to begin with?


41. Yusuf "Roadsinger"

Sales this week: 13,698
Debut

He can make secular records, high-priced videos, even go on tour, BUT HE CAN'T CALL HIMSELF CAT STEVENS??

This makes no sense to me. In the same country where most people have no idea what the number one record is, people are supposed to connect the dots that a guy who hasn't graced the hit parade in decades has a new release under a different name?

I can't believe there's a religious reason he can't use his old stage moniker.

Meanwhile, the album is CLOSE, but not close enough.

And he's spending all that pent-up capital.

Maybe next time.


What sells music is not marketing, but what's in the grooves.

The labels are blaming the customers, that all they want to do is steal. But even if P2P piracy ended tomorrow, the sales for the above albums would not rise dramatically. Because most people just don't care. They care about the new "Star Trek" movie... Paramount got a director with a track record, hooked him up with a franchise and let him loose. And ended up with quality. Kind of like Mutt and Nickelback, if Nickelback were a truly great band.

We need music that sells itself. And we just haven't got enough of that.

We've got all kinds of prognosticating how to make money, just not enough thinking how to get people away from their video games and TV sets to listen to music. Where's the excitement? When everybody knows the young acts don't write and oftentimes can't sing? You need honesty, credibility and authenticity to sell music, all wrapped up in good voices, changes, harmonies and hooks. We might get a track or two now and again, but then there's nothing under the surface, no continuity, you check out the album and it's dreck.

This won't be the situation forever. With the lack of revenue in the music world, the posers are going to move on and the real musicians are going to take over. There just isn't enough of a reward if you're not real, you've got to love to play! And these unfettered players will concoct genuine songs that will elate us when we hear them. The big bosses won't be controlling them, because the big bosses will be gone.

It can only get better.

But to blame today's sorry state on the customer is a grave mistake. Sales suck because the customer thinks new music has got the nutritional value of a Twinkie, it's like minor league baseball, entertaining, but not the real thing.

The real thing is the Beatles and all those ancient bands still treading the boards in sold out arenas. Most of whom can no longer write a decent tune, they're so concerned with managing their money. But what inspired these people can inspire a whole new generation. It's about the sound! Music is something you hear, not something you sell! Got that?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Slip Bang

slip bang
ads meet website

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spot Us -- New Model for News.. LMKWYT

Spot.us
An interesting model for raising money to do researched reporting on local level.s

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ArtistData.com LMKWYT

ArtistData.com
Haven't had much time to explore this one.. lots to digest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Music Licensing Opportunities blog. LMKWYT

blog on music licensing
all the places you an license

Music Think Tank 360 deal LMKWYT

Free 360 deal download

looks like an interesting site. Forward thinking.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dino.. Indoor Life... video blast from the past

Blast from the past... my buddy, former bandmate and exceptional musician, Dino (JA Deane to some of you)...
here's a clip of Indoor Life.. one of San Francisco's premier new wave bands of the 80's.... Dino plays trombone the way some of yous guys play the gee tar...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

thesixtyone Let me know WYT!

for fans... here's one.. musicians upload your songs.. fans hit hearts...
the sixty one

1000 True Fans.. Let me know what you think!

1000 True Fans -- and article for every independent artist to read...
It's a new day in the music business.... where the artist will know the names of all their fans.

The artist can't hide behind their music or their marketing.
Fans want to know who you are.. what you do... and want interaction...
a quick hello email, a note on facebook, a newsletter...

If you're willing to give your fans your time, they'll support your endeavors...
Read this article...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another day, another music site.. postyourmusic.com Let me know what you think!

Post Your Music

Primer on How to Use Twitter.. Let me know what you think!

NY Times article on Twitter
Written in Sept 2008, is a good primer on how to use Twitter in your business.
Leave comments below

Friday, February 27, 2009

AMP Magazine.. Let me know what you think!

http://musicconnection.com/amp/
A new online magazine...
Artists, Musicians, Players

Monday, February 23, 2009

Musician Connex .. Last.fm, ReberbNation,

http://www.last.fm
streaming audio, no fees, ad supported
testing... looks good... so far.. more music than most

http://www.reverbnation.com/
free marketing tools for musicians... widgets for collecting fans, posting concert dates globally, posting new music globally.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

OTR Studios 02 2009

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Q&A For CD quality and High Rez Downloads

Question from Tom 1/19/2009
I downloaded the 24 bit stereo track however Windows Media Player V.11 says I need a codec to play it. Is there something special I need to play the music? OS is Win XP Pro.

Answer from BC Support

There's nothing special about the file itself, though you probably do need a codec as WMP doesn't read 24 bit .wav files out of the box. Depending on a few settings in your system it will sometimes download the codecs it needs. There is a 16 bit version available on our page for just this reason. If you want to do a little installing, this page addresses the issue and has a link to download the needed codec. You could also try the K-Lite codec pack. Let us know how it goes. Thanks...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

DA NUMBAS from Nielsen Soundscan Music Sales 2008

Here ya go....

• Total album sales fell to 428.4 million units, a drop of 8.5% (2007 = 500.5 million).

• Physical album sales fell 20% to 362.6 million (from 450.5 million)

• Digital album sales rose 32% percent to 65.8 million units;

• Digital track sales were up 27%, breaking the 1 billion mark for the first time at 1.07 billion.

• Total transactions rose 10.5% to 1.5 billion;

• All Genres saw losses: Classical music dropped 26%; Country fell 24%; Latin was off 21.1%;

• Vinyl album sales also grew with 1.88 million vinyl albums purchased for the year. Up 89% over 2007

Concerts saw higher revenue, due primarily to higher ticket prices. For the 100 top-grossing shows:

• Box-office receipts from North American concerts were $4.2 billion, up 7.8%;

• Average ticket prices cost $66.90, up 8%;

• Number of tickets sold fell 3%, to 35.6 million

Top 10 highest-grossing tour of 2008 in North America:

Madonna - $105 million
Celine Dion - $94 million
Eagles - $73.4 million
Kenny Chesney - $72.2 million
Bon Jovi - $70.4 million
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - $69.3 million
Neil Diamond - $59.8 million
Rascal Flatts - $55.8 million
The Police - $48 million
Tina Turner - $47.7 million

There are a number of articles written, both positively and negatively on the results of 2008 sales based on how the writer wants to slant the article. I'd like to point out that these initial numbers for sales are gathered by Nielsen Soundscan whose numbers don't accurately reflect sales for indie music or products sold through non traditional means.

"Music sales are following the trend established over the last several years: Digital Sales Up, Physical unit sales down, and overall revenue sliding further." While that is true, CD sales still account for more than 400 million units in sales. If digital downloads were attributed 10 songs per disc, the equivalent in sales turns the 1 billion downloads to 100,000 equivalent albums. Being I was an early pioneer for digital distribution, this doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is how bad the quality is when it doesn't have to be.. but that's another article....

I don't think any indie artist will give up making cds just yet. It's still a valuable revenue stream for selling at gigs, getting reviews, offering information and creating a brand image.

Added to the arsenal of artist revenue streams is good ol' vinyl. Note that vinyl is up 89% in unit sales over 2007 and increasing. Vinyl sales won't overtake cd or downloads in sales, but, is becoming a more viable revenue stream and crossing all genres of musical tastes, economic standing and age.

Vinyl is not just for audiophiles. We're seeing increasing vinyl production from punk to pop. Whether the source is from tape or from disc, vinyl represents a true music lovers desire to collect memorabilia from favorite artists with full graphics and lots of information. From the artist perspective, sales are 'one way'.. unlike trad distribution of the revolving door. No returns. Hallelujah!

I'm not suggesting you toss your mp3 player out the window just yet. Mp3 and lower rez downloads are great for wall paper listening, hearing new music and artist promotion. Internet music has replaced radio for wall paper. You pay for not having the ads...

Economic conditions aside, the world of music is flooded with talented and untalented folks, all putting out their own independent music, recorded unserimoniously in someone's garage under questionable conditions. Music has been on a downhill trend 7 of the last 8 years. The music, the sound, the magic is gone and the public is tired of spending money on the risk of more clutter. Can you blame them? The public is confused as to where to look, how to find new music and doesn't want to spend time looking. Confusion never makes a sale.

A couple of notes from 2008 that changed the business. Walmart became the new major label, with Best Buy and Target soon to follow. Last May, Walmart instigated a $9.95 top price for a cd. You could buy the whole mp3 album for $11. Such a deal! Then, in the first week of sales, Walmart would selling to the others (like Best Buy) who would mark it up. That means soundscanning happens twice on many recordings inflating the sales numbers. If your thinking Walmart is going to put the final knife in the cd, you're probably right. Fortunately, they don't carry many titles.

So... what to do if you are an artist? Gigs. I'm a little disappointed to see that the top grossing acts are mostly over fifty with careers of 20 years or more, under the contractural hands of livenation.com ( the OTHER record label) that cater to the baby boomer generation. Good to note... most of my festival promoter friends had very successful events in 2008 despite the economy covering all genres of music.

On a personal level, Blue Coast doubled its revenue in 2008 with no traditional retail or mp3 available for sale. Our SACD discs sell for $30-40 online and through audiophile online stores worldwide. China is 40% of our business, France is 50% of our direct from website sales. We have no tour, did no radio or solicit reviews. How did we do it? We found our niche and went to their trade shows where we had a captive audience of 3000-10,000 people. We brought a great product and weren't afraid to promote it. If you're an artist, I recommend you do the same.

It's not brain surgery. Fans want to meet and talk to the artists or producers behind the music. They want a story. All you have to do is give it to them.